The Common Core State Standards have faced strong opposition in many states, but in California, more than three out of five registered voters support them, according to a poll commissioned by the Oakland-based nonprofit advocacy group Children Now.

In the telephone survey of 1,000 registered voters, 63 percent said they either strongly or somewhat favor the standards, while 33 percent said they somewhat or strongly oppose them, with 4 percent expressing no view.

Larger percentages of Hispanic, African-American and Asian voters said they favored the standards than white parents, who comprised 51 percent of those surveyed, according to EMC Research, the polling firm that administered the survey.

“We are not surprised to find that Common Core support remains strong in our state,” said Ted Lempert, president of Children Now, which backs the standards. “California has been a leader in implementing the updated education standards and the test results are doing what they are meant to do—shine a light on achievement gaps, which is crucial to creating a more equitable education system for California’s kids.”

The Children Now poll indicated more support for and knowledge of the Common Core than other recent surveys. However, differences in how questions were phrased and polls were administered may have influenced the answers. The Children Now poll prefaced asking about the Common Core by stating that the standards “established reliable and consistent learning goals in English language arts, literacy and math.”

  • An April 2016 Public Policy Institute of California poll of all Californians, not just registered voters, showed respondents about evenly divided on the standards. Told that the “Common Core State Standards are a single set of K–12 English language arts and math standards that most states, including California, have voluntarily adopted,” 43 percent said they favored them, 39 percent they opposed them and 18 percent said they didn’t know.
  • An August 2016 online poll of 1,202 registered voters by the Policy Analysis for California Education and USC Rossier School of Education asked the 75 percent of respondents who had indicated they knew at least something about the standards whether they “support or oppose having teachers in your community use theCommon Core State Standards to guide what they teach.” Only 44 percent said they strongly or somewhat supported the standards, compared with 51 percent who said they strongly or somewhat opposed the standards, with 4 percent saying they were unsure.
  • A year earlier, a similar PACE/ USC Rossier poll found that only 26 percent of California voters approved of the Common Core, 31 percent said they disapproved, and 17 percent had no opinion, with 26 percent saying they hadn’t yet heard about the Common Core.

The Common Core standards appear to have more support in California than they do on the national level.  A national online poll conducted in May and June, 2016 by the journal Education Next found declining support  for the Common Core nationally. Fifty percent of 4,181 adults favored the use of Common Core in their state, down from 58 percent the year before and 83 percent four years earlier. Most of the shift was among Republicans, whose support fell from 82 to 39 percent in four years. The drop among Democrats was from 86 percent to 60 percent.

The Children Now poll did not ask participants their party affiliation, but in California about 45 percent of registered voters are Democrats and only 23 percent are Republicans, with 27 percent unaffiliated.

In California, where Democrats hold all statewide elective offices and control the Legislature, there has been a unified front for the Common Core, including Gov. Jerry Brown, the State Board of Education that he appoints, State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson, legislative leaders and the state’s two teachers unions.  There has also been very little parent opposition to the standards. Last spring, less than 1 percent of parents chose to opt out of having their students take the Smarter Balanced tests aligned with the standards.

One distinct feature of the Children Now poll is that levels of support changed when respondents were read arguments for or against the standards.

Respondents were read 10 statements made by supporters of the standards. These included arguments that they are designed to promote critical thinking and problem solving, to set a high bar for all students, and to help students learn what they need to succeed in college or the  the workplace.

After hearing these arguments, support for the standards rose to 67 percent and opposition dropped to 31 percent.

Respondents were also read eight statements  by opponents of the standards. These included criticisms that the Common Core is a top-down federal program imposed on states and local districts, that the standards are inappropriate for young children, hurt at-risk children, including English learners, and weren’t needed to replace state standards that had succeeded in raising test scores.

After being read these arguments, support for the standards fell to 55 percent, with 43 percent opposed.

Forty-five states and the Washington, D.C., adopted the Common Core standards, although three states – Indiana, Oklahoma and South Carolina – have rescinded them. A handful of other states, including New York, where an attempt to link teachers’ evaluations to scores on standardized tests eroded teachers’ support for the standards, are considering significant revisions.

However, most states have either maintained the standards or renamed them, while keeping the core standards intact.

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  1. Paul Muench 7 months ago7 months ago

    I can understand why PPIC would run such a poll. But why Children Now? What are they looking to understand or proove?

  2. Bruce William Smith 7 months ago7 months ago

    I agree with SD Parent. I signed on support for the Common Core very early in the Obama administration, before the standards had been released, because such a set was (and remains) a good idea; however, this particular set of standards leaves American children 2-3 years behind their peers in leading jurisdictions in East Asia and northern Europe, so unless its age-based grade labels are ripped off so that faster learners, at least, aren't held … Read More

    I agree with SD Parent. I signed on support for the Common Core very early in the Obama administration, before the standards had been released, because such a set was (and remains) a good idea; however, this particular set of standards leaves American children 2-3 years behind their peers in leading jurisdictions in East Asia and northern Europe, so unless its age-based grade labels are ripped off so that faster learners, at least, aren’t held back by them, I oppose their use in state schools, and urge parents to opt out of state testing and, if your school engages in constant test prep, the way too many do, to opt out of state schooling altogether, at least until the government repeals the “Every Student Succeeds” act and devolves power to families to make the best choices for their children’s educations.

  3. SD Parent 7 months ago7 months ago

    Just shows you can influence the results of a poll in how you ask the question. How about a poll where they only survey parents whose children are in school now? My experience and those from parents I know is that Common Core sounds good on paper, but it falls short in practice.

  4. Roger Grotewold 7 months ago7 months ago

    It seems that this is kind of mixed bag of poll results that can certainly be influenced by the questions asked. It would be interesting if a poll could be taken after the participants in the poll had been given a completed copy of the Common Core standards to read. By doing it this way, it would seem that a series of completely generic questions could then be given to everyone taking the poll. … Read More

    It seems that this is kind of mixed bag of poll results that can certainly be influenced by the questions asked. It would be interesting if a poll could be taken after the participants in the poll had been given a completed copy of the Common Core standards to read. By doing it this way, it would seem that a series of completely generic questions could then be given to everyone taking the poll. This would be a fair way to do it, in my judgment. It would certainly be of interest to classroom teachers, that need to abide by these standards.